MYSTIC, MAJESTIC, MESMERIZING
Sikkim, acclaimed as one of the world’s last utopias, is fast gaining popularity as an ideal destination for trekking, cycling and other adventure activities. This amazing cycling holiday explores the scintillating nature and rich Buddhist culture of Sikkim – one of India’s smallest states, nestled in the shadow of the mighty Kanchenjunga. This meticulously crafted tour takes us from the lush sub-tropical rain forests up into the high Himalayan regions.
Travelling through the charming and picturesque Ravangla, Yuksom and Pelling, the journey takes us through verdant forests and meadows, quaint villages and past impressive hillsides offering picture-perfect views. Add yummy local fare, and exotic wildlife and it’s a little wonder that this mountain paradise is such a haven for cyclist from around the world.
Along the trip, we will also visit the fascinating monasteries at Rumtek, Pemayangtse, and Dubdi for an insight into the rich Buddhist customs and culture. Khecheopalri Lake and a trip to the bustling town of Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim, are other highlights of this tour. Our journey ends in the tea capital, Darjeeling. Here we capture the spectacular sunrise from Tiger Hill and on a lucky day, we might even catch a glimpse of the Everest.
- Gangtok: Views of the higher Himalayan peaks
- Martam: Lush vegetation, majestic mountain views, quaint villages, nature walks and forests
- Ravangla: Surrounded by forested hills and undulating valleys dotted with village huts
- Pelling: Breathtaking view of the Kanchenjunga and surrounding ranges
- Darjeeling: Famous for its tea gardens and the eponymous ‘champagne’ of teas
Day 2Delhi – Bagdogra (By Flight) – and drive to Gangtok
Delhi - Bagdogra
After the breakfast, we will be transferred to the Airport to board the flight for Bagdogra.
Bagdogra - Gangtok
Upon arrival, we board the vehicle (Support vehicle) and continue our journey a little further to Gangtok. After checking in at our hotel, we have enough time to explore the city and wander around the market.
Day 3Sight-seeing of Gangtok (No cycling)
Today, we go for the sight-seeing programme of the capital of Sikkim - Gangtok. We start with the Namgyal Institute of Tibetology – a fantastic museum housed in a traditional Tibetan-style mansion that boasts a jaw-dropping collection of artifacts related to the Vajrayana Buddhism and Tibetan Culture. It houses one of the world’s largest collections of books, icons, thangkas (religious paintings), objects of tantric rituals and rare manuscripts on Mahayana Buddhism. Thereafter, we visit the Royal Chapel (tsuk-la-khang) – the Buddhists’ principal place of worship and assembly and the repository of a vast collection of Buddhist scriptures. Continuing our sight-seeing programme, we also visit Enchey Gompa – located above Sinolchu lodge, about three kms from the centre of the town. Enchey Monastery situaued in Gangtok is a very pious and appealing place of worship . It was built in the year 1909 on a magnificent ridge overlooking remarkable town of Gangtok from where we can enjoy a breathtaking view of Mount Kanchenjunga.
Day 4Gangtok to Martam Village (Cycling 38 kms approx.)
Gangtok - Martam Village
In the morning, our route descends into the valley to then gradually climb towards Rumtek, passing through the paddy fields and small hamlets as we edge our way to the beautiful Martam Village. En-route, we visit Rumtek Monastery, one of the main monasteries of Sikkim and the seat of the Karmapa Lama, the third highest monk in Tibetan Buddhism. It was built in 1960's by His Holiness the late 16th GYALWA KARMAPA when he took refuge in Sikkim after the Chinese attack. It houses some of the world’s most unique art objects, ancient manuscripts and icons. After a short climb we contour a rocky mountain-side to then start a gradual descent past the fertile rice fields of Martam to reach the village. We arrive here and check into our Resort overlooking a wide valley of terraced paddy fields and bounded by rich forest-covered hills.
Day 5Martam to Ravangla via Temi Tea Garden ( Cycling 35 kms approx)
Martam Village - Ravangla
Today is another great route as we head to Ravangla via Temi Tea Gardens close to Damthang. The first part of the day is a fantastic ride passing through the small terraced villages of Sirwani and Sang. A breathtaking descent takes us to Makha bridge from where we start a gradual climb towards Ravangla. En-route, we stop to visit the Temi Tea Gardens, the only tea plantation in Sikkim. Continuing our ride past small waterfalls, we reach Ravangla. Situated at a height of 2100 metres, Ravangla is among a few places in Sikkim to offer unmatched views of the Greater Himalayas. Mt. Kanchenjunga, Mt. Pandim, Mt. Sinialchu and Mt. Kabru are just a few of the major peaks that are clearly visible from our vantage point. The beauty of its landscape and its location as a transit point to nearby destinations has made Ravangla a must-visit place.
Day 6Ravangla to Yuksom ( Cycling 50 kms approx)
Ravangla - Yuksom
After the breakfast, we continue biking from Ravangla to Yuksom, via Tashiding monastery. We start with a fantastic descent towards legship and river Rangit and continue by a gradual climb towards Yuksom, stopping en-route to visit Tashiding. The Tashiding monastery belongs to the Nyingmapa order and is highly revered among the people of Sikkim. Build on the top of the hill, the monastery is looming over the Rathong and Rangit river. It is believed that even a slight glimpse of the monastery can cleanse mortals of all sins. After the visit, we continue our ride past small villages and terraced rice fields, passing great waterfalls to reach Yuksom. Yuksom literally means the meeting of three great lamas. These lamas came from Tibet and established the Nyingmapa order of Tibetan Buddhism there. Yuksom is the base camp for various trekkers. Upon arrival, we check into our hotel and proceed to visit Dubdi Monastery, built in 1700 CE, also known as the Hermit’s Cell it is one of the oldest monasteries in Sikkim, located at the top of a hill about an hour’s walk from Yuksom. Dubdi means 'the retreat'.
Day 7Yuksom to Pelling ( Cycling 35 kms approx)
Yuksom - Pelling
Today is a short day ride, but challenging as we head to Pelling. Leaving Yuksom in the morning, a lovely descent will take us past some fantastic waterfalls. Heading downstream the road rollercoasters past little villages and views of terraced paddy fields on the opposite side of the valley are a treat to the eyes. Placid Pelling situated at an altitude of 2,072 metres offers good views of entire mountain ranges. Upon arrival in Pelling, we check into our hotel. Rest of the day is free to relax or to wander around the town.
Day 8Pelling to Rinchenpong (Cycling 42 kms approx)
Pelling - Rinchenpong
After the breakfast, we head towards Pemayangtse Monastery. Pemayangtse (perfect sublime lotus) is located about 107 km west of Gangtok. It is one of the state’s oldest and most important monasteries and commands an impressive view of Mount Khangchendzonga. This monastery belongs to the Nyingma order and all other Nyingma monasteries in Sikkim are subordinate to it. After the lunch, we start our descent towards Dentam and a gradual climb ending with a downhill ride to Rinchenpong.
Day 9Rinchenpong to Nayabazar (Cycling 35Kms approx) & drive to Darjeeling
Rinchenpong - Nayabazar
Today, we leave Rinchenpong behind and continue our ride, mostly downhill, as we make our way to Nayabazar. Riding past terraced rice fields and small village huts, this is the last ride in Sikkim before reaching Nayabazar, a busy bustling border village.
Nayabazar - Darjeeling
At Nayabazar, we leave the bikes and drive for about 25 kms to Darjeeling in West Bengal. Darjeeling is spread in ribbons over a steep mountain ridge, surrounded by the Emerald-green tea plantations with a backdrop of jagged white Himalayan peaks floating over distant clouds.
Day 10Sight-seeing of Darjeeling (No cycling)
Famous for its richness of flora and fauna, and located at a height of 2134 metres above sea level, serene green Darjeeling is famous throughout the world for the tea it grows. It is also known for its richness in cultural and natural heritage and the famous Toy train. We start our day by getting up early to visit Tiger Hill. Situated at an altitude of 2,590m and 13 kms from the town, this spot has earned International fame for the magnificent view of the sunrise over ‘Kanchenjunga’ and the great Eastern Himalayan Mountains. Even Mount Everest, the world's highest peak, is visible from here.
We also visit Himalayan Mountaineering Institute (HMI) and Museums – the HMI was created by the late Tenzing Norgay, the Sherpa who conquered Mt Everest with Sir Edmund Hillary. A display of equipment used for climbing is one of the highlights.
A Zoological garden nearby has an assortment of wildlife such as yaks, Siberian tigers and red pandas who call the region their home.
Lastly, we visit the Tea Garden. It is said that the best tea in the world comes from India. While in Darjeeling a visit to any nearby Tea Garden to watch the actual process of manufacturing of "Darjeeling Tea" is worth it. There are many tea gardens in this hill region and the most accessible one is the Happy Valley Tea Estate, where one can watch tea from the gardens being processed.
Day 11Darjeeling to Kurseong via Old Military Road ( Cycling 36 kms approx)
Darjeeling - Kurseong
In the morning, we set off from the hotel and take a secondary road that contours the hills towards Ghoom. We ride past small hamlets set above tea plantations. Upon arrival in Ghoom, we take a detour to visit Ghoom Gompa. It is one of the oldest Tibetan Buddhist monasteries in this area, built in the year 1850. This is the original and the old Ghoom Monastery as it enshrines an image of the Maitreya Buddha. From Ghoom, we ride on the “old Military road”, totally car free, as we enter ancient conifer forests past small waterfalls, hardly meeting anyone on the way. While we still ride above 2000 mt, the views occasionally open up to the lower hills and the tea plantations, where people with baskets are seen picking tea leaves. We thereafter, descend to Kurseong. Our accommodation for the night is yet another Colonial house converted into hotel, where we sit out on the veranda sipping tea and enjoying the views of the plantations while reflecting on our fantastic holiday.
Day 12drive Kurseong - Bagdogra and fly to Delhi
Kurseong - Bagdogra
Today after the breakfast, we are transferred to Bagdogra to board the flight for Delhi. Upon arrival in Delhi, transfer and check into the hotel. We have rest of the day free to explore the bazaar.